Ezekiel 18:1-19:14, Hebrews 9:1-10, Psalms 106:32-48, Proverbs 27:10
Today is the 8th day of November welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I’m Brian it’s wonderful to be here with you today as we gather around the Global Campfire and move forward together a step at a time. And we’re here for the next step and that next step leads us back into the book of Ezekiel. We’re reading from the New English Translation this week. And today Ezekiel chapters 18 and 19.
Okay. So, we have been working through some prophetic books for a while now. And, so, with book after book chapter after chapter page after page of what seems like impending doom it’s really easy for a subtle shift to start taking place in our hearts about what we think God is like, how our perception of his heart is. And yet we came upon a passage in the book of Ezekiel today where God is speaking about how his heart is on his own behalf. Like I said, it’s easy for us to go book after book chapter after chapter page after page that of words feel like vengeance and impending doom and no mercy. And, so, we get this sort of like other side of God. We have Jesus and that shows us what God is like but there’s this other side of God that we’re not so sure about and we don’t know how to demystify. He’s an angry God and He absolutely hates disobedient people. It’s important for us to remember that the prophets are prophesying. They’re talking about an outcome that hadn’t happened yet but was going to happen if things didn’t change. In other words, the path the people were following was going to lead them to destruction. The prophets come along and flesh out what that destruction is going to actually look like. But it hadn’t happened yet. Now, we’re read plenty of things in the Scriptures where the people just continued on their way, ignored the prophecies of people like Jeremiah who prophesied for two decades before the fall of Jerusalem, but he was ignored and then it happened. The sad thing is, in so many of the cases of the prophets these things didn’t have to happen. They happen because they were ignored. And, so, indeed we have read of some really catastrophic stuff that happened the Hebrew people. But what does this have to say about God? Well God speaks to that in the book of Ezekiel today and I quote. “do I”, and this is God speaking, “do I actually delight in the death of the wicked, declares the Sovereign Lord? Do I not prefer that he turned from his wicked conduct and live?” Well there’s God speaking into this on his own behalf, which lets us know that the books of prophecy that we find in the Bible are like memorialization’s of a time when God could not keep His act together and was so angry and had woken up on the wrong side of the bed and decided that lightning and thunder and smiting the people of the earth was what He was going to do today and this is just all written down by the prophets so that we can understand what a vengeful God, an erratic, unpredictable God we serve. Typically what we find is a very thorough explanation of where things are going and why. And usually, this boils down to a breaking of covenant or a turning to a false lover in idolatry, which is a breaking of covenant. And words like that, words that are mostly found in biblical discourse like covenant, our eyes can kind of glaze over. Covenant. Like whose…whose obeying covenants. Ironically, we all are. It’s still part of our story. It’s not foreign. It’s not a foreign concept even for us in the modern era. We enter into covenants all the time. Mostly now we call them contracts. I mean if you go to a restaurant and you use a credit card to pay for your meal and they bring a receipt back that you have to sign, you’re signing a covenant that you’re gonna pay. All the way up to the covenant of marriage. You’re going to enter into an agreement with another person that you will be loyal and faithful to them until death do you part, in sickness and in health. This is a covenant. And using the idea of marriage covenant here or marriage contract here, anyone who’s ever been through the breaking of that covenant or has observed friends breaking that covenant for various reasons, bad things usually happen. It can be devastating on families, it can be devastating on lives. It takes years to recover from this kind of stuff. So, if the Lord sent a prophet when the marital problems began, and said if you keep going in this direction, utter doom and destruction are coming upon you. Your family will be broken apart. Your life will never be the same again. Stop what you’re doing. Return to God. Repent. Come home. And they don’t. And then it does happen, and their lives get blown apart and their family gets ruined. Is it God’s fault? Did He wake up on the wrong side of the bed for sending someone to say this is not going to work out. Ironically, the story of the Hebrew people found in the Bible is one of covenant breaking on a repetitive regular interval. The people broke the covenant and served other gods and were disloyal to each other. For God to send a prophetic voice to say this is going in the wrong direction and if you keep going in this direction it’s going to blow up on you and here is what that will look like. Is that God waking up on the wrong side of the bed or is that God being long-suffering and continually trying to send warnings of where things are headed. Did God need to send warning messengers at all? Was He obligated to do that? Couldn’t the people have just broken covenant and gone on to their own destruction? Because they knew it going into the covenant what would happen if they broke the covenant. So basically, what we find when we’re moving through prophetic voices is God sending a messenger to say hey, we had an agreement and I have been faithful to my end of the agreement. You entered into a covenant with Me. You are eating, you are breaking the covenant. And, so, all of the things, the curses of the covenant, the repercussions of breaking the covenant are headed your way. Destruction is upon you. Turn back. But even if you don’t, even if you are absolutely determined to be destroyed, I can’t forget you. I love you. I’ll be waiting on the other side of this. In the end I will restore you and make all things new again. Come home to me. Trust me. Or how about we take it out of my own paraphrase or my own ill equipped words and just simply read from the word of God quoting the Lord as he spoke to the prophet Ezekiel. “I will judge each person according to his conduct house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and turn from all your wickedness, then it will not be an obstacle leading to iniquity. Throw away all your sins you have committed and fashion yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, O house of Israel? For I take no delight in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live.” So, that’s what’s going on here when we read through the prophets. God doesn’t want to destroy people because He woke up on the wrong side of the bed. He wanted and wants to destroy the things that destroy people and anything that will seduce people away from God is ultimately going to lead to their destruction and the breaking of a covenant, a pledge. We pledge our hearts and our loyalty to the King of Kings and Lord of lords. Anything that will cause us to walk away from that is not good for us. It will lead to our destruction. And like the children of Israel we’ll either listen or we won’t. The choice is ours. It is a life-and-death choice as we’ve seen several times in the Scripture. Choose life is what we are always encouraged to do in this situation. And, so, if we’ve been afraid that God woke up on the wrong side of the bed and is smiting us maybe we really need to realize that He is trying to rescue us and we are smiting ourselves. We woke up on the wrong side of the bed. We are smiting ourselves by walking away from the only true thing we have in life and that is our covenantal relationship with God. Some things to think about today.
Holy Spirit, we ask that you help us to think about these things today, to re-examine our lives and look at the ways that we’ve created havoc and then blamed you for it. We are sorry. We don’t want to walk the path that walks away from you. That is walking the path of destruction. Forgive us. We stop in our tracks here and now. As you suggested through the prophets, we stop here and now and turn around and come home. Forgive us for what we’ve blamed you for. Forgive us for what we’ve done to ourselves. Forgive us for what we’ve done to each other. Forgive us for walking away. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I will be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayer and Praise: